In this Conversations on Groong episode, we’ll be talking about the continuing degradation of Armenian heritage sites in historic Armenian lands, and the problems of preserving our monuments and cultural sites against the erosion of time, and the threat of destruction by anti-Armenian neighbors.
To discuss these issues with our guests, our host today is:
Simon Maghakyan, who is a researcher of cultural destruction and Visiting Scholar at Tufts University.
This episode was recorded on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021.
One year ago this month, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia signed a ceasefire to end the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. Armenians lost the war, as well as access to over 1,000 sacred sites. Today we will discuss the future of Artsakh monuments under Azerbaijan’s control, and the monumental fight for their preservation.
To talk about these issues, we are joined by:
Entrepreneur and lawyer Virginia Davies, who is the New York-based founding president of Save Armenian Monuments
Prof. Heghnar Watenpaugh, who teaches Art and Architecture at the University of California, Davis, and is a board member of Save Armenian Monuments
● Heghnar, it’s the 1st anniversary of the end of the 2020 war over Artsakh. Could you give us a recap of what has happened so far in terms of cultural heritage in the region?
● Virginia, Save Armenian Monuments is almost one year old. Can you tell us what the organization has been up to so far?
● Heghnar, Virginia mentioned Artsakh pilgrimages. Can you tell us more about the significance of pilgrimages for individuals, communities, and for the holy places themselves?
● Virginia, have you been following the recent cases brought by Armenia and Azerbaijan at the International Court of Justice. Can you tell us more about Armenia’s ask for protection of cultural monuments and if there is legal precedence for this?
● Heghnar, in your Newsweek piece you raised the question whether intentional destruction of cultural heritage is racial discrimination. How would you answer that question yourself, as a scholar of cultural heritage?
● Virginia, what are the plans of Save Armenian Monuments in the near future?
More complete Biography on our guests:
Save Armenian Monuments’s New York-based founding president is a native of Toronto, Canada, a veteran champion for economic, cultural, and political empowerment of underrepresented and underserved communities, a commitment rooted in her experiences of being a granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors and daughter of a small-business owner. Her career has been in government, banking, entrepreneurship, and the nonprofit sector.
Davies’s tireless experiences include participating, as a state attorney, in the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark Regina v. Big M Mart Ltd religious freedom case; championing the United Nations Foundation’s inaugural public-private partnership for international development as the first Vice President of Capital Partners; participating in Peace and Reconciliation conferences in Uganda amid the 2006–2008 Juba talks; developing a post-Covid community currency for small and medium businesses; increasing access to finance for women and indigenous peoples-owned enterprises as an executive officer at Bank of Montreal; founding digital small businesses, training women to run for political office; and launching Women Startup Armenia. Davies is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advance Management Program. Her experience as a board member of the micro-lending pioneer Pro Mujer prompted her return to school, where she completed a doctorate in law, culminating in the 2008 publication Banking for Growth.
Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh
Heghnar Watenpaugh specializes in the history of art, architecture, and urbanism in the Middle East, including architectural preservation, museums, and cultural heritage. Her first book, The Image of an Ottoman City: Architecture in Aleppo, was awarded the Spiro Kostof Book Prize from the Society of Architectural Historians. She has also received Best Article Awards from the Syrian Studies Association and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. Her newest book, The Missing Pages: The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript, from Genocide to Justice was published by Stanford University Press in 2019. The Missing Pages is the first book to receive book prizes from both the Society for Armenian Studies and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. It was selected by The New York Times in its New and Noteworthy section, it was reviewed in the New York Review of Books and the Wall Street Journal, and it was selected for the top 25 books in the arts for 2019 by the art publication hyperallergic. The Missing Pages also won the Gold Medal in World History from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and it was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (non-fiction). Her research has been supported by fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Trust, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hays, Social Science Research Council, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, and the Office of the President of the University of California. She has served on the boards of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Syrian Studies Association, and the Historians of Islamic Art Association, among other professional organizations. In 2020 she was named a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar.
That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode. We hope it was helpful in your understanding of some of the issues involved. We look forward to your feedback, including your suggestions for Conversation topics in the future. Contact us on our website, at groong.org, or on our Facebook Page “ANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network”.
Special thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channels, Like our pages and follow us on social media. Thank you for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.
Armenia, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Cultural Monuments, Heritage Sites, Preservation, Destruction, UNESCO, ICJ, International Court of Justice, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Religion, Cultural sites,